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Mystery Plants!

Spring is on its way, and soon teams of volunteer field assessors for HRWC’s Bioreserve Project will be fanning out across the watershed, cataloging plants and scoring ecosystem values on natural areas deemed important for the Huron watershed’s health.  As part of these assessments, assessors identify all the wildflowers, trees, shrubs, and grasses/sedges they encounter;  we have listed over 700 different species of plants inhabiting the wetlands, forests, and fields in the watershed.  However, we also encounter some mystery plants — plants we have not been able to identify.  Here are some that have really been bugging us!

If you enjoy the outdoors, field botany, and helping out HRWC, sign up for our Bioreserve Field Assessment training, May 12, at Independence Lake Park, in Webster Township, Washtenaw County.  After a half day training, you can sign up to join teams doing assessments throughout the watershed this spring, summer, and fall.

Can you identify these mystery plants?

Assessors found this plant growing in the Huron's floodplain in South Rockwood.

Assessors found this possible orchid(?) in a wet meadow in Sharon Townhip.

A sunflower, perhaps, of some kind? Also in Sharon Township.

Kris Olsson

Kris directs the Bioreserve Project, which aims to identify and protect the watershed's most ecologically important remaining natural areas, and works with local communities in the Portage Creek watershed to keep the creek healthy. Kris enjoys being outdoors and cuddling on the couch with her three dogs (and her two daughters, oh yeah, and husband too!)

Latest posts by Kris Olsson (see all)



6 Responses to “Mystery Plants!”

  • Martha Gruelle:

    the orchid may be Epipactis helleborine which is Eurasian.

  • rork:

    Martha’s got a point, but maybe the broad leaves make showy orchid, Cypripedium reginae, possible. That’s like what everyone was hoping already I figure.

    The first time I met Helleborine orchid, I could not for the life of me figure out what it was, cause I knew every genus of orchid from Michigan, and it did look like any of them. A few years later I learned.

    Maybe just Tall sunflower for the last one, but it’s hard to tell. Helianthus giganteus.

    I’m embarrassed by the first one – I think I helped DNR collect seeds from it before, but can’t think of the name.

  • Mark O'Brien:

    The middle one looks like False Hellebore, and the last one looks like a stunted Jerusalem artichoke.

  • Ron Gamble:

    Your first one (South Rockwood) is Broad-leaved Puccoon, Lithospermum latifolium, aka American Gromwell

  • rork:

    Thanks Ron. I had looked up Hoary Puccoon instead, vaguely recalling something about Puccoon, but it was obviously wrong.

  • Matt Heumann:

    The orchid with the broad bristly leaves and stem and extreme size has to be Showy Lady’s-slipper C. Reginea
    I agree with Ron Gamble about the broad-leafed puccoon
    The sunflower would have to be keyed since there are many similar species, with hybrids and intermediates.


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